TEL AVIV (Apr. 24)
A massive memorial assembly for the six million Jewish victims and the survivors who fought against the Nazis was held this evening at kibbutz Lohamei Hagetoot — the Ghetto Fighters kibbutz as part of Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day. It was attended by thousands of Holocaust survivors, students and school children. President Yitzhak. Navon, who addressed the rally, stressed the need for total unification of the nation and the elimination of specific “landsmanschaften” — organizations of Jews from the same cities, towns or countries abroad.
The enemy, he said, does not differentiate between Jews who speak Ladino or those who speak Yiddish. The Jews from Salonika were driven to the gas chambers together with Jews from Poland, Russia or Hungary. The enemy makes no distinctions between Jew and Jew. “Let us not differentiate between ourselves. The call of the hour is to unite,” Navon said.
The President also called for better educational programs for youth concerning the Holocaust, noting that they no longer possessed the basic knowledge of the period and no longer sensed what had actually taken place. Another rally was held this afternoon at kibbutz Yad Mordechai, named in memory of Mordecai Anielewcz, the leader of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising who was killed by the Germans.
The assembly was preceded by a day of solemn mourning, which began last night, during which all places of entertainment were closed and flags were flown at half-mast. A memorial siren was sounded in the morning, bringing traffic to a halt and signaling people throughout the country to bow their heads in respect.
Earlier in the day, a memorial sculpture by Nandor Galid, one of Yugoslavia’s most renowned sculptors, was dedicated at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem in the presence of Education Minister Zevulun Hammer. “The Holocaust stands before us as note of warning,” he said. “It points out that we must always remain aware of and be sensitive to any attempt anywhere to denigrate human lives. We, of all people, must sharpen our awareness to such atrocities.”
A central memorial service at Jerusplem’s Yad Vashem, conducted last night in the presence of Navon and Premier Menachem Begin, marked the beginning of Remembrance Day.
BEGIN: NO MORE MASADAS
“The destruction of millions of Jews was paralleled by no other in the history of mankind,” Begin told the hundreds present at the public assembly. “But it has showed us that our history is a circle. We rise and fall. We are freed and oppressed… a circle of construction, destruction, renewal, enslavement, uprisings and victory.”
The Premier called on the nation to look to Masada as an example which should no longer be Followed. “We must now ensure that there will be no more destruction. No more Masada. Let us look instead to Modiin. No more destruction with honor. Rather honor with victory,” he said.
Begin’s address was followed by the chanting of Kaddish and EI Moleh Rahamim. The ceremony closed with the Kindling of six beacons in memory of the six million Jews who perished during the Holocaust. Nearly a thousand Holocaust survivors, new immigrants, tourists, and others attended the service.
In the mood of the day, it was reported that the Ministry of Education has decided to have Holocaust studies — which are to become a compulsory subject for high schoolers next year — focus on Judaism, and not on Hitlerism and World War 11. During the summer, 1000 teachers will be trained to teach the course, which will be based on memoirs of Holocaust survivors, film clips, photographs and visits to museums.
Throughout last night and today, memorial services were held in all parts of the country. Nazi hunter Beate Klarsfeld was made an honorary citizen of Beersheba in tribute to her contribution to the struggle against anti-Semitism and Nazism. Earlier today, Klarsfeld held a silent demonstration at Yad Vashem to protest the release last week of four Nazi war criminals in the Maidanek trial in Dusseldorf.